The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is expecting an increase in fire ants this year as the park makes a concerted effort to upgrade its roads and parking areas, Knoxnews.com reports.
Fire ants frequently arrive at construction sites on heavy equipment, mulch or nursery stock. They like disturbed soil, and with the Smokies receiving $77.5 million in federal stimulus money for repaving and building projects, the unwelcome insects are expected to expand their range in the park.
In 2002, imported fire ants showed up along the Foothills Parkway near U.S. Highway 129 at the west end of the Smokies. They also were discovered at the park's Twin Creeks Science and Education Center in 2007 after hitchhiking on landscaping material used in the building's construction.
The park focuses most of its fire ant control at Abrams Creek and Cades Cove, where visitors are most likely to come in contact with the stinging insects.
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